Netflix's VPN crackdown is a costly mistake

Netflix US blocked? Here are some other regions to try out

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Over the course of yesterday it began to look like Netflix had begun blocking South Africans from accessing Netflix in the United States through services like Unotelly, and by the end of the day, it seems as if they succeeded.

You can still browse through the Netflix catalogue with your DNS-unblocker enabled, but the moment you attempt to watch something a message pops up saying “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again”.

While the service was still reportedly working for those trying to access the Netflix UK catalogue last night, we’ve checked this morning and the service is definitely down for the count. The same goes for trying to access Netflix libraries in Canada and, bizarrely, Belgium.

But never fear, all is not lost: some Netflix regions still offer South African DNS-unblockers full access. And rather than force you to comb through the different regions yourself to see what is and isn’t working, we’ve done the leg work for you. You’re welcome.

Region Blocked?
United States Yes
UK Yes
Canada Yes
Mexico No
Sweden No
Norway No
Denmark No
Netherlands No
Argentina No
Costa Rica No
Germany No
Luxembourg No
Austria No
Belgium Yes
Panama No
Australia No
New Zealand No
Italy No
Portugal No
South Africa Seriously? It’s not.
Hong Kong No
Japan No
Spain No
India No
Brazil No
Chile No
Switzerland No
Finland No
Ireland No
Russia No
France No

So a total of four regions have been blocked, which actually isn’t that bad. While we do begrudge the loss of the UK we’ve found that the Australian and New Zealand libraries closely mirror the UK’s content.

You can also use a search engine like FlixSearch to trawl through the global library before switching to the appropriate region to watch what you want to watch.

So why is this happening and who is making our lives that much harder? Well, while it could be Unotelly, we aren’t so sure the company is doing it out of its own free will: we think they are facing incredible pressure from Netflix.

Last weekend Unotelly amended its Terms of Service to reflect that the service should no longer be used to access Netflix but rather as a privacy protection measure. Interestingly, a function that was once labelled as “Netflix” on the Unotelly Android app, has been changed to read “Region Picker”.

We aren’t in a position to point fingers, but given Netflix’s promise to crack down on VPN services and geo-unblockers coupled with the changes to Unotelly, it doesn’t seem unfair to conclude the culprit is Netflix.

With House of Cards season four scheduled for release today and the weekly (yes one new episode a week, just like regular TV) release of a new Better Call Saul episode happening as we speak, we think South Africans are going to be just a bit irritated by it all.

[Image – Netflix]


Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.